Road Trip in Nevada

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When you think of Nevada, what comes to mind? Perhaps a jungle of casinos, dripping with neon lights and bursting with the sound of slot machine bells. Or maybe you think of the desert and its miles of empty, arid land. Or possibly you think of time spent sunbathing, swimming, and boating in Lake Tahoe's sparkling waters.

With so much to offer, NV is a road tripper's dream destination. Keep reading for more information on the rules of the road, major Nevada roads, and of course, all of the destinations you should be sure to visit.

NV Rules of the Road

To ensure that you have a stress-free (and ticket-free!) road trip, it's important for you to learn NV traffic laws.

When you have the time, take a quick look through the Nevada driver's manual to get a general idea of what rules you're expected to follow. Additionally, it's worth taking a look at Nevada's safety laws, because they can differ from state to state, but more so because they could end up saving your life.

Required Driving Documentation

Make sure you have the correct documentation before getting out on the road. Drivers from another U.S. state—need to have a valid driver's license from your home state.

Major Nevada Roads

Here are some of the major roads, the cities they run through, and states they connect to (if applicable) you might encounter during your NV road trip:

  • I-15 (north to south): Connects to California and Arizona; runs through Paradise, Spring Valley, and Las Vegas.
  • I-80 (west to east): Connects to California and Utah; goes through Reno, Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain, Elko, Wells, and West Wendover.
  • ­US-6 (west to east): Intersects Tonopah and Ely.
  • US-50 (west to east): Passes through Carson City, Fallon, Austin, Eureka, and Ely.
  • US-93 (north to south): Goes by Wells, Ely, Pioche, and Las Vegas.
  • US-95 (north to south): Runs by Winnemucca, Lovelock, Fallon, Hawthorne, Tonopah, Goldfield, Spring Valley, and Las Vegas.

Nevada Destinations

It doesn't matter if you're a gambler or a family-tripper, a nature lover or a bit odd-natured, Nevada has just the right destination for you.

NV's Great Outdoors

On your road trip through Nevada, you won't want to miss any of the diverse, natural wonders populating the Silver State. Here are a few to consider:

  • Lake Tahoe—Incline Village, NV.
    • Partly in California and partly in Nevada, this scenic alpine lake will beckon you to go outside and experience nature year-round.
    • In the warmer months:
      • Swimming, fishing, boating, and more out on the lake.
      • Hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails.
      • State-of-the-art golf courses.
    • During the colder months:
      • Skiing, snowboarding, and sledding.
      • Snow biking.
      • Fishing and boating in the lake (the water might be a little too chilly for a swim).
  • Ruby Mountains—Elko, NV.
    • Miles and miles of towering mountains, dotted with several lakes, and home to a large variety of Nevada wildlife.
  • Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge—Humboldt, NV.
    • Originally started as a means to conserve the American Pronghorn antelope, the sprawling refuge is now home to a large variety of native Nevada plants and animals.
  • Great Basin National Park—Baker, NV.
    • Huge park filled with almost every natural wonder you can think of, including:
      • “Cold" desert landscapes covered in snow.
      • Mountain ranges formed by ancient glaciers.
      • Caves (tours in select spots).
      • Lakes and ponds.
  • Mount Charleston—Mt. Charleston, NV.
    • Escape the Las Vegas heat with a short drive up to this cool mountain oasis.
  • Cathedral Gorge State Park—Panaca, NV.
    • Valleys and gorges lined with ancient geological formations make this a unique stop for a photo op.
  • Valley of Fire—Overton, NV.
    • Named for its remarkable red sandstone formations, this state park offers an aesthetic experience you won't find anywhere else.
  • Sierra Safari Zoo—Reno, NV.
    • Nevada's largest zoo is home to a wide variety of mammals, birds, and reptiles from all over the world.
  • Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary—Las Vegas, NV.
    • Non-profit organization devoted to the preservation and care for all types of birds (from exotic parrots to ostriches) and certain farm animals.
  • Lake Mead Cruises—Boulder City, NV.
    • See the Hoover Dam and the surrounding natural wonders like never before, aboard a paddleboat cruise on Lake Mead.
  • US Route 50—Carson City to Ely, NV.
    • Touted as the “Loneliest Road in America," this long and deserted stretch of highway will help you earn your stripes as a seasoned road tripper.
  • Lovelock Cave—Churchill, NV.
    • Legends say the last survivors of a race of red-haired giants hid in this cave and were suffocated by a fire started by the natives at the mouth of the cave.

Nevada History

With attractions taking you all the way back to prehistoric times, and then up to the days of settling the wild American West, Nevada is surprisingly full of rich and diverse historical attractions, including:

  • Tule Springs Fossil Beds—Boulder City, NV.
    • The first site where radiocarbon dating was ever used.
  • Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park—Austin, NV.
    • Visit this turn-of-the-century mining town turned deserted ghost town turned Ichthyosaur fossil preservation site for a broad look at NV state history.
  • Hoover Dam—Boulder City, NV.
    • Considered to be one of “America's Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders," this monolithic landmark is an even larger testament to the drive and determination of the people who built it during the Great Depression.
  • Ward Charcoal Ovens—Ely, NV.
    • Charcoal ovens resembling massive beehives, first built during the Nevada silver boom and later used as places for travelers to rest, or roadside robbers to hide.
  • Virginia City, NV.
    • One of the most successful and developed mining towns during the silver boom. Today it's a town that celebrates its Old West heritage daily with re-enactments.
  • Nevada Northern Railway—Ely, NV.
    • Take a ride through old mining districts, up mountain ridges, and through manmade tunnels aboard this historic steam engine.
  • Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort—Las Vegas, NV.
    • Adobe fort originally built by some of NV's earliest Mormon missionaries and later converted to a ranch.
  • Western Folklife Center—Elko, NV.
    • Center specializing in the history and culture of the old American West through exhibits, films, art, and more.

Arts & Culture in Nevada

Many of Nevada's most prominent, modern cultural attractions can be found in a few select hot-spots within the state. During your road trip, be sure to see at least a few of the following:

  • Nevada Museum of Art—Reno, NV.
    • Large selection of exhibits covering multiple mediums and styles, with a special focus on American artists.
  • Stremmel Gallery—Reno, NV.
    • Monthly, rotating exhibitions by contemporary American European artists.
  • Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art—Las Vegas, NV.
    • Located in the Bellagio hotel, this unexpected location offers rotating art exhibits with pieces by some of the world's most renowned artists.
  • Neon Museum—Las Vegas, NV.
    • Host to a vast collection of retired Las Vegas signs that once glittered on some of the city's biggest streets.
  • Mob Museum—Las Vegas, NV.
    • Learn about the role the American mob played in shaping our country and more specifically, the impact it had on Las Vegas.
  • National Automobile Museum—Reno, NV.
    • Calling all car enthusiasts to experience this huge collection of automobiles, namely those owned by Bill Harrah (of Harrah's casinos).
  • Las Vegas Strip—Las Vegas, NV.
    • A Mecca for gamblers, partiers, foodies, concert-goers, thrill-seekers, and well, just about anyone who's willing to make the trip.
    • State-of-the-art hotel/casinos, restaurants, and performances.
  • Fremont Street—Las Vegas, NV.
    • In the historic downtown district, Fremont Street carries with it the feeling of old Las Vegas and offers a different look at the city's notable nightlife.
    • Casinos, live music venues, and a zip line are just a few of the many attractions the district has to offer.
  • Shark Reef Aquarium—Las Vegas, NV.
    • Experience a diverse display marine life in the middle of the desert at this state-of-the-art aquarium, located in the Mandalay Bay hotel.
  • Fleischmann Planetarium—Reno, NV.
    • Located at the University of Nevada, the Planetarium is focused on educating visitors of all ages on Earth and space sciences.
  • Children's Museum of Northern Nevada—Carson City, NV.
    • A museum devoted to engaging and educating children through hands-on, play-focused exhibits and activities.
  • Discovery Children's Museum—Las Vegas, NV.
    • Exhibits and programs devoted to teaching children about the arts and sciences through an intensively interactive environment.
  • Wet 'n' Wild—Las Vegas, NV.
    • Take a break from the Vegas heat at this attraction-filled waterpark.
    • Waterslides, pools, and slides suitable for visitors of all ages.
    • Weekly special events and promotions.
  • Thunder Mountain Monument—Imlay, NV.
    • Towering structure by Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder who used objects he found deserted along the highway or in nearby junkyards.
  • National Atomic Testing Museum—Las Vegas, NV.
    • Exhibits on the history, use, and effects of the Nevada Test Site during the Atomic Age of the Cold War.
  • International Car Forest of the Last Church—Goldfield, NV.
    • Project of a few artists devoted to planting all types of cars nose-first into the ground.